J. Matthew Gallman on the Civil War History of the Word “Shoddy”

The word “shoddy” originated to describe a poor product and not a sloppy worker. The term, which first appeared in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, came out of the world of textile manufacturing. Shoddy was a sort of cheap cloth made by pressing together scraps of reclaimed wool. This inferior-quality material was inexpensive, but it would not stand up under heavy use. The Civil War saw the heyday of shoddy, both as a textile product and as an evocative term. And the evolving use of the word during the war years speaks volumes about how Northerners used the popular media to make sense of this terrible war.

Daniel J. Tortora: Why Hollywood Should Take Notice of the Anglo-Cherokee War

History-based films serve as a teaching tool, spark an interest in the past, and provide perspective on issues in modern society. But I have yet to find a gripping, historically accurate film on eighteenth-century southern history. It is time that Hollywood takes notice of the Anglo-Cherokee War.

Toby L. Parcel: Can Neighborhood Schools Also Be Diverse Schools?

Are preferences for neighborhood schools and diverse schools really polar opposites? As Wake County has debated policies of public school assignments over the last several years, many have framed the debate this way. Media coverage often juxtaposes assignment plans that promote diversity in schools and classrooms with others that place more emphasis on children attending schools close to home. Citizen groups have formed on both sides. Races for school board have focused closely on candidate preferences. In The End of Consensus: Diversity, Neighborhoods, and the Politics of Public School Assignments, Andy and I have discovered that despite this very public polarization, many citizens actually favor both diverse and neighborhood schools.

David Gilbert: Who Owns Black Culture?: Racial Appropriation and the Marketplace

The reason social critics and entertainers still point out white appropriation when they see it is because the American public, and its leaders, have not matured the way black music and culture have. Even though millions of whites may profess to love and respect black music, their daily decisions—and those of their elected and institutional leaders—indicate that they do not love black people.

Marianne Gingher: Amazing Place Is a NY Times Bestseller

It seems fitting that I should document the AMAZING PLACEment of this wonderful book on the New York Times Bestseller List. Thursday, May 7, 2015, I got word it was named #8 by the New York Times Bestseller list for the TRAVEL category.

Timothy P. Spira: Hiking Rainbow Falls Trail

One of my favorite waterfall hikes in the southern Appalachians is the Rainbow Falls Trail in western North Carolina, just south of Lake Toxaway. Beginning in Gorges State Park, the 4-mile (round-trip) trail soon enters Pisgah National Forest, where it follows the Horsepasture River (a designated Wild and Scenic River) along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. Four waterfalls occur along this stretch of the river, including Rainbow Falls, a near-vertical cascade about 125 feet high with a large plunge pool at the base. Few waterfalls in the southern Appalachians are as spectacular (and powerful) as this one.

Nathaniel Cadle: The Lusitania and the American Century

In a sense, then, the sinking of the Lusitania spelled an end for U.S. isolationism, dramatically demonstrating that the United States was interconnected with the rest of the world to such a degree that the events of the war could have a direct and profound effect on the lives of Americans whether they were combatants or not. More generally, it also set the stage for what Henry Luce, on the verge of the United States’ entry into yet another world war fifteen years later, would famously call “the American Century.”

Barbara W. Ellis: 10 Tips for Attracting Birds to Your Landscape

Feeders are just one option for attracting birds to your yard. The way landscape plantings are arranged, the plants you grow, and the gardening techniques you use all play roles in encouraging birds to make a home in your backyard.

Use the ten tips below to welcome a wider variety of birds to your landscape. You will find more information on attracting birds and other wildlife, including lists of recommended native plants, and plants that attract hummingbirds, in Chesapeake Gardening and Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide.

Christina D. Abreu: Cuban Women Singers and the Mid-Twentieth Century Latin Music Scene, or, Celia and Graciela

Often overlooked in studies of Cuban musicians during the golden age of Latin popular music in the United States are the contributions of Afro-Cuban women singers. Two of the most prominent performers during the1940s and1950s were Graciela Pérez Grillo, lead singer for Machito y sus Afro-Cubans, and Celia Cruz, lead singer for La Sonora Matancera.

Call for Manuscripts: Studies in Latin America open-access short works series

The Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC Press invite manuscript submissions for a new joint initiative in open-access scholarly publishing.

UNC Press Announces Two New Appointments at Longleaf Services

The University of North Carolina Press announced today the hiring of two new positions at its affiliate unit, Longleaf Services. Clay Farr has been named Executive Director of Publishing Services, and Lisa Stallings has been named Editorial, Design, and Production Manager. Both of the new positions are associated with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that the Press received in January to create a scaled publishing services platform for the publication of high-quality digital monographs by university presses. Longleaf will create cost efficiencies and economies of scale on a broad range of digital publishing activities, including copyediting, composition, production, operations, and marketing services.

Martha S. Jones on Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch and the Political Power of Black Women

Over at the Huffington Post, Martha S. Jones, coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women, puts the nomination of Loretta Lynch for Attorney General in historical and political context. Jones begins: Glimpse a preview of dynamics that will shape the 2016 election cycle in the contest over Loretta Lynch’s nomination as Attorney General. …

Continue reading ‘Martha S. Jones on Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch and the Political Power of Black Women’ »

Bruce B. Lawrence on ‘Who Is Allah?’

What is most needed now is to understand both the historical nuance of Allah throughout the past 1500 years and Allah’s relevance today, in 2015.

Timothy P. Spira: The Lure of Waterfalls

Waterfalls are constantly changing. A rapid surge in stream flow following a heavy rain can turn a modest waterfall into a raging torrent of water. Dry periods can transform a waterfall into a trickle of water (much to the disappointment of waterfall enthusiasts). A slight breeze can elicit a shimmering spray, and if the light is right, a colorful rainbow. If passing clouds obscure the sun, the brightly reflective waterfall changes to softer hues, and the rainbow vanishes into thin air.

Richard Schweid: Will Warming U.S.-Cuba Relations Reveal More Classic Car Treasures on the Island?

One thing a détente between the U.S. and Cuba will do is reveal the truth or falsehood of an urban myth in Havana, which holds that numerous pristine 1950s Detroit models are stored in secret garages across the city.

2015 African American History Month Reading List

The study of African American history is a year-round endeavor for UNC Press, but in honor of African American History Month, we’d like to highlight the great new work we’ve been able to publish in this field recently. Here are books on African American history, culture, and modern society from UNC Press over the past year, plus a few that will be available later this spring and are available for pre-order now.

Gary W. Gallagher on Working with Harry W. Pfanz

Esteemed Gettysburg historian Harry W. Pfanz passed away recently at the age of 93. Founding editor of the Civil War America series Gary W. Gallagher recalls the publication of Pfanz’s landmark Gettysburg trilogy.

UNC Press Receives Major Grant from Mellon Foundation

The University of North Carolina Press has been awarded a $998,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York to support the development of capacities at university presses for the publication of high-quality digital monographs.

Glenn David Brasher’s Civil War Top 10 from 2014

Do we have a new annual tradition on our hands? Last year over on our CivilWar150 blog, Glenn David Brasher gave us a great roundup of Civil War-related highlights from throughout the year. He’s back at it again with 2014’s big news in Civil War history. You’ll find elections, debates, satire, sincerity, and more.

Excerpt: Alcohol: A History, by Rod Phillips

One of the earliest printed books on aqua vitae, in this case brandy, was published in Germany in 1476 and recommended a half-spoonful every morning to prevent conditions as varied as arthritis and bad breath. Other physicians wrote of the beneficial effects of brandy for physical ailments (it cured headaches, heart disease, gout, and deafness); as an aid to appearance (it improved the bust and stopped hair graying); and as therapy for emotional and other problems (it banished melancholy and forgetfulness). The inclusion of conditions commonly associated with aging (such as deafness, forgetfulness, and graying) reflects the claims that drinking brandy prolonged youth and thus life itself.